From today’s Straits Times:
Govt doesn’t make money from ERP
THE CashCard reader in labour chief Lim Swee Say’s car beeps four to six times a day.
This is because he passes through that many Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantries along busy city roads to get to and from work.
He was driving home the point that ERP exists solely to control road congestion and not to enrich government coffers or raise the cost of living for Singaporeans.
Mr Lim was responding to a question at a dialogue on why the Government was raising ERP rates by as much as $2 and adding five new gantries from July7 in a climate of rising inflation.
The new gantries along the banks of the Singapore River bring the total number of gantries islandwide to 65.
Mr Lim said Transport Minister Raymond Lim had told Parliament previously the Government does not make any money from the ERP increase.
The reason: It will collect $70 million a year from the ERP increase, but will lose $110 million due to the 15 per cent reduction in road tax from next month.
That is, in fact, a net loss of $40 million, he said.
So motorists who do not use congested roads will be ‘net gainers’, said Mr Lim, pointing to Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh.
This is because Mr Singh, who shared the stage with Mr Lim at the dialogue with Sengkang West residents yesterday, works in Changi.
Mr Lim is not so lucky as he works in the NTUC Building at One Marina Boulevard.
Relating his driving experience to laughter from the audience, he said: ‘Every morning when I come out of my house, it’s one beep along Bukit Timah, then another beep entering Marina South. From July 7, I’ll be getting another beep just along the road to my office.
‘The amount I pay through all this beeping will be more than the road tax rebate I am getting. Why? Simply because I am one of those who always go to busy areas.’
Ahem. This is a classic case of pushing out a political story without weighing the context – the ERP unit in the Gahmen people’s car can beep away as much as they care, or we care.
What’s missing in this story?
1. Does Mr Lim get to claim his ERP charges as part of his official transport allowance?
2. If not, what percentage of his monthly pay does ERP eat up? It’s way higher for many sales people who have to drive into town. Some who cannot claim for the extra increase. Of course, Mr Lim’s salary will not be mentioned in the story…so why raise the point even?
3. Are the newer ERP gantries really necessary? This is being debated by many of us who work in Raffles Place and don’t see the congestion that LTA keeps talking about. Not being debated enough in the media though. The papers went into overdrive covering the seatbelt issue (and now that bus operators have threatened to raise fares by 50%, the story seems to have suddenly died out)
For the record, I take MRT to work only because I can’t get a season parking lot in the same building as Mr Lim, and my wife needs the car to drive the kids around.
I’m trying to write more positive and balanced blog posts in response to all the negative ones out there about our city and our Gahmen, but man, it’s really not easy.
And no, I won’t shut up.